Audaxing is the sort of holiday that involves visiting petrol stations and eating Ginsters sandwiches. It doesn’t have to be, but I seem to lack the forward planning skills to go anywhere nice. It isn’t that I plan to visit ugly garage forecourts, it just sort of happens because I’ve planned a ride through beautiful countryside avoiding towns… and when I inevitably run out of energy I have to stop at the first place I see. Usually a petrol station, and by this point I’m so hungry that my discernment over the quality of food has dropped to an all time low. Ginsters? Yes please!
I’ve been on holiday for a week, so taken one day to be selfish and go for a long bike ride. I’m looking for improvements to the Humber Bridge 200 route. I’ve found a lovely valley just south of the Humber Bridge which has quiet roads and wide open views, but to reach it requires knocking some of the distance off the northern end of the ride.
At dawn I set off northbound from Welton into the Yorkshire Wolds with a great view of the sunrise over the East Riding of Yorkshire. I pass through sleepy South Dalton and the church building which is so tall it seems to scratch the sky, conscious that two pieces of toast will not get me very far. I’m hopeful of finding a village shop in Middleton-on-the-Wolds. Hopeful but unfortunate… the village shop has long since been boarded up. I’m not overly worried yet though, and continue to explore some route options by using the A166 to Garrowby Hill where I can join the Roman Road along the top of the escarpment looking west towards York.
Although the views are wonderful I’d rather not send my randonneurs along this section of A166, and the Thixendale / Water Dale route has equal views once you reach the top. My tummy rumbles. I realise that there is unlikely to be anywhere to eat before I reach Kirkham and my hopefulness rests upon the Stone Trough Inn being open. Sadly, a vain hope.
As my empty stomach had no help in Kirkham, I wondered where on earth I’d be able to eat. I have mixed feelings about my hunger because my route-finding kung-fu seems to be pretty good today, for example, the turn to Crambe takes me onto a fantastic little green lane. I ride through Oak Cliff Wood, along the opposite side of the River Derwent (and the Hull-Scarborough railway line) from my Kirkham approach. This is a lovely ride and I pass a couple of smiling cyclists riding the otherway.
The isolated green lanes take me through fields all the way to Bossall and the little church nestled in the autumnal tree lined fields. Part of my motive for rerouting the Humber Bridge 200 is to avoid the A64 in the north, and the A1077 in the south, and so-far-so-good. I arrive in Buttercrambe and recognise part of a 100km autumn ride that starts in Wigginton. However, I now join the A166 and contend with heavy goods vehicles again. Even my turn towards Full Sutton doesn’t shake them off: I’m riding along ‘Hatkill Lane’ and I’d quite like to get out of the traffic with my hat intact.
With 90km ridden since toast o’clock, I stop at the first place I see for food – the Jet petrol station on the A1079. Glamourous it is not: Ginsters and coffee. I’m going to need this to cover the next 70km which are all southbound and into a headwind. I thought I was really clever finding this new route, but it turns out that without nice places to stop, beautiful country lanes may as well be a desert.
Long distance rides, as everyone knows, have their ups and downs. Sometimes those ‘downs’ are simply the result of a flat road with a headwind. Sometimes the ‘ups’ are finding an unexpected joy: as I passed under the M62 “Ouse Bridge” I found this symmetrical view before – me which brought a smile to my face.
Once through Hook and Goole the ride continued south along the banks of the River Trent, on the western bank as far as Keadby Bridge, then crossing over and following the eastern bank to East Butterwith. Turning east towards Brigg I found my pace picked up significantly as I finally had a side/tailwind, and thankfully so because the traffic picked up on these busier roads.
After Brigg I reached my second goal of the day, I’d returned to the Ancholme valley, running north/south from the banks of the Humber Estuary parallel with the River Trent. I loved riding along here one more time, through Worlaby, Bonby, Saxby All Saints and Horkstow.
Although I was disheartened that my route ‘improvements’ had been a let down I was glad to have ridden these roads. I loved my ride from Welton through South Dalton and along the Roman Road to Kirkham. I really enjoyed the green lanes to Buttercrambe and apart from the two sections of A166, the roads were delightful. I struggled with 100km of dead-flat roads and headwind, but I do enjoy the notion of riding along the banks of the River Trent even if I can’t actually see the river. Ancholme valley is wonderful and well worth riding too. However, I realise that ‘beautiful’ and ‘quiet’ roads need to visit places where cyclists can easily find something to eat – and for that reason I think I’ll have to keep the Humber Bridge 200 route as it is. Sheriff Hutton is such a convenient location to stop and has a choice of places to eat… that is so much nicer than a Ginsters sandwich on a garage forecourt.